State health officials launched an investigation Thursday into how Dr. William Dando was allowed to practice medicine in Maryland, given his 1987 rape conviction in Florida, and they suspended his medical license because of a sexual assault indictment filed last month in Allegany County.
The officials disclosed that when Dando applied for a Maryland medical license in 1996, he told the Board of Physicians he had "assaulted someone" while under the influence of alcohol in the past, but did not specify that the 1986 incident involved rape at gunpoint. They also said he participated in a physician rehabilitation program for alcohol abuse in 1993.
But questions about the circumstances of his licensure remain. The state health department's inspector general is set to investigate, asked by state health Secretary Joshua Sharfstein and board leaders to make recommendations to strengthen patient protection.
"Mr. Dando's license history in Maryland raises serious questions for the Maryland Board of Physicians, including what the Board staff and Board members were aware of regarding his criminal history, how the Board considered this information, and the role of the physician rehabilitation program that he participated in," said Sharfstein and the board's outgoing chairwoman, Dr. Andrea Mathias, and incoming chairman, Dr. Devinder Singh, in a joint statement.
Board officials are considering a policy to begin conducting criminal background checks of licensure applicants. While licensing boards for nurses, social workers and therapists require such checks, the physicians board asks applicants to voluntarily disclose arrests, guilty pleas and convictions, and says it investigates any reported infractions.
An Allegany County grand jury indicted Dando late last month on a charge of sexually assaulting a patient, and the Board of Physicians' order suspending Dando's license provided more details on the April incident.
According to the order, a 41-year-old patient told police Dando examined her genitals without a female chaperone present and collected a vaginal specimen without a speculum. Then he continued examining her without wearing gloves, asking the patient "if it hurt or felt good," the order said.
The alleged incident occurred at MedExpress Urgent Care Center in LaVale, just west of Cumberland. MedExpress officials said Dando was fired when officials learned of the sexual-assault allegations, and they are investigating why his conviction was not revealed when they conducted an employment criminal background check.
The order also revealed that a second patient had complained about Dando at the facility and was interviewed by police investigating the alleged April assault. The female patient told detectives Dando performed an unchaperoned pelvic examination on her after she flinched during an abdominal examination. The woman told detectives it was unlike previous pelvic examinations she had received, the order said.
Before joining MedExpress in May 2013, Dando had a medical practice on Frederick Road in Catonsville that for some time was called Baltimore Cosmetic Laser Center. The practice focused on family medicine but later expanded to cosmetic procedures, and had been there since at least 2002, said Dr. Scott Poulton, an internist who has practiced in the same Catonsville building since that time.
Dando could not be reached for comment. He has not entered a plea in the case. An attorney who represented Dando in a bankruptcy case said she had not been in contact with him. Attempts to reach him through an attorney who has represented him in an ongoing medical malpractice case also were unsuccessful.
Dando was convicted of rape in 1987 in Florida. He pleaded guilty to following a woman home and raping her at gunpoint after a night of drinking at a strip club. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison but served only four years; he was released in 1991.
The board's order provided more details on what occurred between his release and his licensure in 1996, saying that he participated in a physician rehabilitation program for alcohol abuse in 1993 in Maryland. He entered into a disposition agreement with the program that lasted until 1998, the order said.
Christine Farrelly, the board's acting executive director, said state law prohibited her from disclosing further details about Dando's participation in the program, including whether the board required him to seek treatment. The program was operated by MedChi, the state's medical society, at that time, she said.
MedChi CEO Gene Ransom said he could not confirm Dando's participation for privacy reasons but said Dando was never a member of the society. He said the term disposition agreement likely refers to an agreement Dando made with the program to manage his alcohol problem, and it could suggest that the board was involved in his participation. At that time, MedChi operated the program under a contract with the state, but the arrangement has since changed, Ransom said.
A board hearing on Dando's suspension is scheduled for June 11. He is scheduled to appear in Allegany County Circuit Court the day before on charges of unnatural or perverted practice and fourth-degree sex offense.